Now that the holiday roster freeze is over with, teams are free to go about their business and start making those mid-season tweaks to help them stay in the playoff hunt. Some teams have obvious issues, others not so much but there are a handful of moves that could be near the top of the list.
Ales Hemsky’s last days in Edmonton?
Ales Hemsky has been quarreling with coach Tom Renney of late with Renney even going so far as to complain about what kind of stick Hemsky is using. Hemsky’s production is a bit off but there’s no doubt he’s a solid scorer. Teams are asking about Hemsky, but the Oilers might not be selling yet. If Hemsky is just about done in Edmonton they should move him before he winds up hurt again.
Philly wants a defenseman
With no Chris Pronger to bash guys around for the rest of the season and playoffs, the Flyers will need some help on the blue line, but who? Tim Gleason has been talked about as a possibility and Kyle Quincey very well might be available in Colorado. Gleason fits the Pronger role a bit easier but Quincey provides solid all-around play at a young age. Paul Holmgren won’t make a panic move, but they’ll need a little something extra without Pronger.
Tampa Bay needs a lot of help
Lightning GM Steve Yzerman could use some help both on the blue line and in goal. With injuries last night to Victor Hedman and Eric Brewer, their defensive depth is taking a beating. Making matters worse is that neither Mathieu Garon nor Dwayne Roloson can stop pucks well enough for them to win. Yzerman won’t make a rash decision, but getting a long term answer in goal could go a long way to stopping the bleeding in Tampa. Coughing up big for Cory Schneider or Jonathan Bernier would be the obvious ways to do that.
Big shakeup in Washington?
Firing Bruce Boudreau and hiring Dale Hunter hasn’t done much to fix things in Washington which leads us to wonder if a big trade here might be the medicine the Caps need to turn things around. Would moving Alexander Semin help out? Perhaps sending Mike Knuble to a contender in need of help? GM George McPhee might have to take some long looks at the guys on his roster to figure out who should stay and who should go.
The Ryan Nugent-Hopkins trade speculation may have died down since it peaked at the draft in late June, but it’s not entirely dead.
The 23-year-old former first overall draft pick was asked to address the ongoing rumors Monday at an Oilers charity golf tournament.
“I try not to pay attention too much,” Nugent-Hopkins said, per the Edmonton Journal. “If it happens, it happens. I know it’s definitely a different group than the one we finished with last season.”
Indeed it is. Most notably, Taylor Hall is in New Jersey now, traded for defenseman Adam Larsson. The Oilers also signed Milan Lucic and drafted Jesse Puljujarvi.
What’s still lacking is an offensive defenseman who can run the power play, which is why the names Tyson Barrie (Avalanche) and Matt Dumba (Wild) have been floated as potential targets.
The Wild in particular could use a good, young center like Nugent-Hopkins, and the expansion draft is looming for a Minnesota club that already has defensemen Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, and Marco Scandella locked up in long-term contracts.
Barrie, meanwhile, has an arbitration hearing scheduled for Friday.
Blues d-man Kevin Shattenkirk is another name that’s come up; however, he can become an unrestricted free agent after next season, and whether he’d re-sign in Edmonton is in doubt.
Chalk up another arbitration hearing that won’t be required. This time it’s Brandon Manning‘s. The 26-year-old defenseman has agreed on a two-year, $1.95 million deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, according to CSN Philly.
Manning’s hearing was scheduled for next Tuesday. He was the last restricted free agent on the Flyers, after Brayden Schenn re-signed Monday.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was the first to report the Manning signing.
Manning played 56 games for the Flyers in 2015-16, his first full season in the NHL. He had one goal and six assists while logging an average ice time of 16:32.
The Chicago Blackhawks are reportedly parting ways with defenseman David Rundblad. The two sides have agreed to a contract termination, according to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Rundblad, 25, was set to earn $1.1 million this season, per General Fanager. His cap hit was $1.05 million, meaning the ‘Hawks will gain $100,000 in cap space by not having to bury his contract in the AHL next season.
Rundblad was unlikely to make the Blackhawks in 2016-17 — not after the additions of Brian Campbell and Michal Kempny, and also the re-signing of Michal Rozsival.
It remains to be seen where Rundblad will end up. One possibility is back in Switzerland, where he spent part of last season before dressing three times for the ‘Hawks in the playoffs.
Darryl Sydor, after being let go by the Minnesota Wild, has joined the Chicago Wolves as an assistant coach.
The St. Louis Blues, the parent club of the AHL Wolves, made the announcement Monday. It was also announced that former NHLer Daniel Tkaczuk would join Sydor as an assistant on new head coach Craig Berube’s staff.
Sydor, who won two Stanley Cups as a defenseman, spent five years as an assistant on Mike Yeo’s staff in Minnesota. His time with the Wild was marred by an arrest in 2015 for drunk driving. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail and sought treatment.
“I know now that alcoholism is a disease and I’m powerless over alcohol,” he told Kamloops This Week in January. “I can never have a drink again and I’m fine with that.”